Birds are always crashing into the glass walls of the Stepmother’s cold, designer home. The “analogue” Fortune Teller (Bartosz Bielenia) entertains Cinderella/Kosia (Jaśmina Polak) with magic tricks, and above all, thanks to his sober take on the world, he helps her cope with her mother’s death, of which we are constantly reminded by loud hammering on percussion. He also helps her rediscover her joy in life. Meanwhile, the Prince is just as lost as Kosia and needs help.
The familiar story of Cinderella becomes a story full of unexpected twists and turns in this original version by French playwright and director Joël Pommerat. Directed for the Stary Theatre by Anna Smolar, the play breaks a social taboo, because death and the mourning that comes with it remain controversial in children’s theatre, and speaking openly about them is thought transgress certain limits. And yet if they are to deal with difficult experiences and find the words to express them, children need support. They carefully observe the world that surrounds them and perceive certain phenomena, and so it seems better that we talk openly with them. This keeps young people from developing feelings of guilt and shame. In this remarkable Cinderella speaking about tough topics like the death of loved ones, anxiety about the passing of time, and everything that is new and different dampens the strength of bad emotions – because when we name things they lose the power to hurt us.
This dazzling, fun, and touching play by Anna Smolar is the Stary Theatre’s first production for younger viewers. But it is for adults as well.
The ensemble handles this tale quite skillfully, dispensing with the threadbare story of Cinderella. (…) But the most important thing is the grace and lack of ham-fisted didacticism with which they navigate the fields of the contemporary gender sociology, child psychology, and family studies. Beginning with jokes about the gowns of Disney’s princesses, and finishing with a happy ending that does not need a wedding with a prince.
Łukasz Gazur, Dziennik Polski
Children on Cinderella, “Gazeta Wyborcza”
Jagoda Olszewska, aged 8: I liked that show a lot and I would not change anything in it, though it was very loud. I liked the fairy the most as she showed some incredible tricks. She opened a book and fire burst out. It went off when she closed her eyes. She also took a long wand from her purse. The whole room burst into laughter as Kosia jumped out of the box in the Ninja turtle costume.
I think this play shows that you need a loving family, not a prince charming, to be happy.
Emilka Chwastowicz, aged 8: I liked the show a lot, it was amazing. What I liked most about it was the guy doing magic tricks. It was incredible. I didn’t like it when Kosia’s mother died. One girl played percussion, and I liked it very much, too. The actors were very positive and funny. But it was so loud at times that I would cover my ears with my hands.
Hanka, aged 12: I am going to tell my friends to see this show. I don’t like children’s theatre as it treats us as dimwits, but in ‘Cinderella’ they talked to me like a rational girl. A few bad words were used but nobody made a fuss about it. There were a few little children in the audience, apparently 7-year-olds. I think it was not a show for them, rather for teenagers.
The heroine is very sad as she loses her mother. She keeps recalling her mother and does not know how to cope with her sadness (I had goose bumps as Cinderella’s mother was dying). As she has a very clumsy father, she has to take care of herself on her own. Her stepmother and sisters abuse her, but she is happy about it as she sees it as a penance for not thinking about her mother all the time.
It is not the ‘Cinderella’ as we know it since Kosia – the heroine – does not lose her slipper nor marry a prince. The fairy tale has a happy ending, though.